snowy field image

snowy field image

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

The Starry Night

I got this crazy idea back in April that I couldn't get out of my head.  I wanted to make a huge blanket made of tiny squares so it looked pixelated.  I've seen some pretty cool ones of 8 bit cartoons but this... I wanted it to be spectacular.  Something that would take at least a year or two.

I decided on The Starry Night.  It's a wonderful and iconic painting and instantly recognizable.  I've always felt drawn to this painting, not only for it's beauty but also to its connection with mental illness and the fact that Van Gogh considered it a failure and didn't see it fit to be mailed off with the rest of his paintings from this time in order to save on postage.

In order to do it any kind of justice, I decided on 2 inch squares.  3,604 of them.  I've already bought all the yarn I need and it's doing a wonderful job of keeping me distracted on my commute.  I'm not sure how many squares I have done at this point.  A few hundred probably.  I think I might construct pieces of it and photograph them so I can see what it would look like when it's done.

Colors laid out in excel (great way to count and label squares)
16 chunks with color labels

Monday, July 27, 2015

Little White Walker

Inspired by - so many cool little characters!

Awwwww watch out John Snow get cha boys.  Papa smurf coming to whoop that ass.
Coming soon - little John Snow?

This was a really fun, quick project to break up the monotony of giant blanket making.  It would be easy to make the whole cast of characters for tons of shows.  This hair technique is one that I've used before except that you separate the strands of yarn a bit before tying them on.  I also did something new which is stitching with yarn on the face to make eye brows and cheek bones and a nose.  The little spear was quicker to make than I thought.  Just a piece of wooden skewer from the kitchen drawer wrapped in brown embroidery thread and stuck a piece of foil tape on the pointy bit.

Pattern for the crochet bit is very simple: two spheres stitched together with a little modification.

Work a sphere: 6, 12, 18, BLO 18, 21, 24, 25, 24, 21, 18, 12, 6.  Stuff in some poly-fil before closing and thread tail through remaining 6 stitches.  I prefer to alternated threading one stitch front to back and the next back to front all the way around and then pulling tight, tying a knot and hiding the end.  To help the body stand up easily, I slip stitched a separate row around the bars from the BLO row to make a little lip around the bottom and press the first three rows flat.

Work a sphere: 6, 12, 18, 21, 24, 25, 24, 21, 18, 12, 6.  Stuff with poly-fil before closing and attach safety eyes if you want.  I sewed beads on the outside later because I didn't have blue safety eyes.

To sew the head and body together, I sew a line of contrasting color loosely around in a circle on both pieces where I want to attach as a guide.  Then place the pieces together (both decrease ends to hide them) and pin together with long straight pins for sewing.  I use pins with big heads so they can't slip into the doll.  Then sew together with needle and thread.

I'll maybe get around to making a more detailed pattern some time.

Thursday, July 23, 2015

Teeny Tiny Little Crochet

I've always been fascinated by ordinary things done on a very large or very small scale.  Examples of large scale crochet are fairly common as t-shirt yarn becomes more popular.  I haven't seen much on the small end yet.  My smallest steel hook is a #10, 1.30mm.  It's too small to use for even the smallest crochet thread I have so for a while I've been thinking about using it with sewing thread or embroidery thread and seeing how small a project I can make.  I started with a single strand of sewing thread, but that turned out to be too loose and hard to handle so I held 3 strands together and it seemed fairly proportional.  Splitting is a bit of an issue but surprisingly the thread sticks to its fellow strands pretty well.  Having a lighted magnifying glass stand comes in handy for little things like this.

I haven't done anything too exciting yet, just a little test piece but it would be fun to think of little projects to work up in the scale.

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Little Beast Boy

I really should write out this pattern if I can find my notes.  It would be fun to make all of the Teen Titan characters.  Just photos for now.  He needs his belt to be attached and this was my first attempt at hair so I would definitely do a few things differently.

Crochet Octopus

This is a very simple pattern.  There's no shortage of similar patterns out there for free, but this is one of the first patterns I actually made myself a few years ago.  I think a lot of people make an octopus pattern early on in their pattern creations because single crocheting into a chain creates a very curly shape and you think of hair or octopus tentacles.

This creature is made using cotton yarn and as small a hook as you are comfortable using so that there are not gaps between stitches.  I used a 4mm hook and Sugar N Cream Cotton yarn. I worked this in continuous rounds, marking the beginning of each row with stitch marker.  The head contains a little poly-fil stuffing.  Add the stuffing whenever you feel comfortable.

The Pattern:

Top of the head down to base of head:
R1: Ch 2, 6 sc in 2nd chain from hook (or magic loop) [6]
R2: 2 sc in each sc [12]
R3: Sc, inc around [18]
R4: Sc around [18]
R5: Sc around [18]
R6: Sc around [18]
R7: Sc, dec around [12] (work decreases in the front loops only to reduce gaps)
R8: Sc around [12]
R9: Sc, dec around, slip to first stitch in row [8] (final row should be the number of tentacles)

Begin in any stitch - In the back loop only (the outside edge of the bowl shaped head - the front loop will be used to close the hole in the head), sc, ch 20 (or any number you like). Slip into the first two stitches of the chain and sc into 2 loops of each chain back to the body (this creates the curl in the tentacles).  Slip into the side of the sc at the beginning of the chain.  Repeat for the seven remaining tentacles.

After completing the final tentacle, slip to the side of the first tentacle's sc.  Ch 1, sc in each front loop of the stitches that you worked in the back of previously (about 6 is fine if it gets tight), slip to first sc, cut yarn and whip through each stitch, pull tight and weave in.

I used a two round little cup shapes to hold in some large googly eyes, but any other method would work if they need to be safe for a child.

For the cups: 
R1: Ch 2, 6 sc in first ch (or magic loop)
R2: In the back loop only, sc in each stitch (add or subtract a stitch to fit googly eye), place googly eye, sew to head.

You'll need to adjust this if you're using a different size.  My oval eyes were 9 sc, and large round eyes were 7 sc.

A few sequins or beads sewn onto the tentacles will resemble their suckers.  Solid color or color changing yarn will give you different cool results.

Mr. Octopus is now on ravelry!  Yay!

Monday, July 6, 2015

Smart Phone Microscope

A while ago we saw an instructional video about how to make your own microscope stand very cheaply that works with a smart phone's camera.

Original video:

We slowly gathered all the materials and saved 'trash' items until we had everything we needed to put together a little test version.  Total cost for us was $0.00 as we used junk and things we already owned to put it together.  We didn't have an appropriate size paddle bit or long bolts.  Instead of drilling a hole through our board (a scavenged pull-out writing extender from a desk) I hot glued the bottom of the bolts in place.  Our 'specimen' stage was not adjustable because most of the nuts did not fit onto our bolts and we had no wing nuts so I did a bit of spacing adjustments using washers and nuts.  It's still a bit unsteady but I was able to successfully capture some close up images!  I have an older iPhone and no photography skills but I was really tickled that it actually worked.  I think that the lens we used from an old laser pointer is 40x magnification but I'm not sure.  The phone's camera can zoom in as well to get a higher magnification.  This is my first little batch of photos.






A little piece of hot glue fiber


Small piece of aluminum foil

Decorative embossing from a card



Marker on paper from our spirograph



Black ball point pen on paper

More black pen

Little glob of dried hot glue

3 3/4 from my crochet hook sizer

Boye crochet hook sizer

Plain white paper

In God we rust?

Honest Abe!


More coinage


Ruler on crochet hook sizer

Cotton yarn from a coaster


The edge of a manicure tool

From a plastic PaperMate mechanical pencil

Nail file

One more coin
We should be able to make some improvements like an adjustable stage and some lighting.  A more recent phone with a better camera would make a huge difference as well.  This was so and surprisingly easy to put together.

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Slip Stitch in Back Loop Only Crochet Rib (Resembles 1x1 Knit Rib)

One of the wonderful things about crochet is that no matter how long you've been hooking, there is always something new to learn.  I was really excited to learn this new stitch because it closely mimics a knit one purl one rib in knitting.  Here's a close up shot.  Ignore the horrendous photography.

Crochet slip stitch ribbing

The stitch itself is very simple and is worked exactly like a single crochet back loop only ribbing but uses slip stitches instead of single crochets.  

Chain the number you want for your width + 1 for the turning chain (for my sample I used 11 chains, 10 stitches wide plus a turning chain) and then slip stitch into each chain across.  You can use any part of the chain you like to work this first row.  Once you've worked across, chain 1 and turn, and then slip stitch into every back loop across.  (The 'back loop' is always the one farther away from you after you've turned your work.)  Then just repeat slip stitching into the back loop on every row until you reach your desired length.  It's important to work these stitches loosely and gently tug the fabric into shape every few rows.  It will look like it's shrinking a little because the stitches will pull toward each other a bit.

The fabric created from this stitch is dense, thick, and squishy with lots of stretch between rows.  It is also completely reversible.  It would be perfect for the bottom of a sweater or ribbing for a glove or mitten.  I would also use this technique for amigurumi for tank treads.

I joined my example into a little bracelet.  It's stretchy enough to easily get on and off and bounces back into a shape to stay right where you want it.

Perfectly for a bracelet or cuff
Cuff laying flat

And a view of the stretch:
The stretch is about 1.5 to 2 times the width of the unstretched material

And one more with altered colors to define the stitches:
Cotton would be much better to show stitch definition than this acrylic